I recently redesigned our website for King Financial Network where I am the Director of Marketing, and discovered something interesting about our old site, it had died the day it was launched.
This may sound dramatic but being shiny and new when it was launched, was blinding us from the reality that our site was irrelevant to our demographic.
As is typical in the financial industry, online presence is generally lacking a face, personality, and purpose. We fell into the trap of “templatized” – use a site that is made by a company that makes the same site for everyone else in the financial industry. For advisors who have to double as marketing directors, one click assistance seems to make sense. But when we all want you to “work with us because we arecomprehensive, customized, Independent, team-based investment management, focused on your financial well-being”…blah, blah blah. How do we differentiate ourselves from everyone else?
I come from the world of branding for collegiate athletic recruiting. In fact, I lay claim for the success of Alabama and Clemson making it to the 2019 championship because it was my strategies that effected their last recruiting classes. College Football recruiting is not unlike the financial services industry in that our objective is to create content that will differentiate our brand from another enough so that it will drive the prospect and influencers to want to visit our campus. Statistics have proven, if you can get a prospect to come to campus, 99% of the time you can get them to commit. But your content needs to be humanized and true to who you are as a brand to be successful.
Humanizing begins with the website. If you are wondering when to do a redesign, the realization rears it’s ugly head quite simply as a feeling or, as I like to call them, symptoms. When you look at your site do you feel a sense of sadness? Does the site look abandoned? Are you avoiding sending prospects to take a peek? Does it appear your brand is like everyone else in the industry…just insert different names? Is it faceless? OURS WAS!
Although painstaking, and at times pretty embarrassing, the process of taking a hard look at your brand presence through your existing site is one that is paramount to the evolution of your brand. Especially in an industry that relies on referrals and a need to interact on an emotional level.
A lot of sites can come back from the dead…here’s how we did it.
Our old site was just too wordy. We had pages and sub-pages of unused, unnecessary, templatized, non-customized content cramming the hallways of our brand. Our audience wasn’t going to our site to learn how to save money, or to read minute details written by some third party on irrelevant matters to our brand. They visit our site as part of their decision-making process of selecting a financial advisor or network.
We eliminated up to 15 unused pages from our site. And by unused I mean no one was going to a number of pages on our site. We reduced copy to present high-level differentiators of our brand strategies, and simplified the customer journey to make a more effective experiential decision making process. We also took ownership of the content we want our prospects and clients to consume, dictating when, where, and how it will be consumed whether thru blogs, events, or causes. Remember you want them to come to campus, so less is more. They will ask questions when they are in person.
Since we are in an industry that relies on referrals, our old site provided no reason to want to refer. It lacked consistent imagery, headshots, and video customized to the brand. It was confusing and lacked simplified depth. These are all crucial elements to humanizing the team and giving clients and prospects reason to share or engage further. You know the second you land on the home page of a website what that experience is going to provide. Make sure the first impression is engaging.
To start we created 1-minute personalized video bios of each of the team within our network, highlighting what makes them unique and likable in and out of work. Viewers love video. We added larger than life headshots and created a team picture that clearly tells you who we are and what we are like the second you click on our team page. Further, we created our own series of 1-minute “Tip” videos aimed to showcase our subject matter experts and provide a free service to our community. If you are not bought in after viewing this content, then we aren’t for you. We make a clear choice in how you get to know us.
The original site was basically a digital paperweight with no purpose. Yes it had our name and services and lots to read but there was no reason to interact within the site once there. Use your site to create interaction, not just as a search portal.
We’ve added an option to sign up for a free consultation. Also on our site you are now greeted with a live chat option based on the page you click to within our site. This takes advantage of opportunity to start a conversation with leads that may have in the past simply moved on. It also gives the user an anonymous way to seek answers on a personal level rather than surface searching. There are also options to be a part of our cause or upcoming events as well as polls for deeper thought and research to make us better.
The truth is that a website needs to constantly evolve or those “symptoms” I mentioned will return. Even with our present-day changes, in this industry you need to commit to evolving the brand presence. Be prepared to make adjustments to your site before they are needed. Using templatized sites is not the best but can work with customized elements. It’s what we have done. But we have already scheduled another shoot date to produce the next round of bio films of our network. New headshots and stylized action images will be updated twice a year. We will be adding a legacy video on KFN which tells a richer, more emotional story of the brand. Look for the addition of our podcast series and of course more customized “how to” videos on all aspects of financial well-being.
Avoid another website funeral. Ask: Does your website have what it takes to make a prospect want to see more? If the answer is no – then your site has passed away.